The recently released USC/LA Times poll says that California voters generally support services and permanent status for illegal immigrants, support government involvement in civil rights, business regulation and poverty relief programs, and want health and education programs to be well funded. The poll also said most voters don’t want to raise taxes.

So what to make of the California electorate’s pro-government, no more taxes dichotomy? Can we say that Californians have big hearts and small wallets? Or is something else going on here?

Many people believe in the California Dream. The notion of California as a place of opportunity cuts across demographics and ethnicities and is a thread that binds people in this most diverse of all states. Californians support proposals that will give people access to opportunity. I suspect that is why those polled would support avenues to citizenship and open doors at educational establishments and government programs to give people a hand up.

However, while supporting a basic framework of government support, voters clearly don’t want to pay for too much. Those responding to the survey think they already pay too much when they say the best avenue to a balanced budget is to cut spending.

Voters don’t trust government to deliver the opportunities they believe in. For years now the ratings of elected politicians in Sacramento have been at the bottom of the graph. Two big issues that voters followed leading up to the election and, undoubtedly, affected their position in the USC/LA Times poll, were the outrageous activity of the officials in Bell and the discussion of public employee pensions.

There is a strong sense amongst the electorate that those in government take care of themselves first. The average worker cannot vote themselves the benefits that the officials in Bell did; nor do they enjoy the health care and pension provisions afforded many pubic employees. And, while they don’t enjoy those same benefits, through their taxes, they have to pay for them.

This reality of what voters would like to see happen and how government actually works explains the poll results.

While Californians have generous hearts and believe in the California Dream of opportunity, they also don’t want to be scammed. Unless Californians sense they are being treated fairly and that the system is working efficiently, I don’t expect voters to open up their purses soon.